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Recreational vaping will be banned in Australia, as part of a major crackdown amid what experts say is an “epidemic”.

Minimum quality standards will also be introduced, and the sale of vapes restricted to pharmacies.

Nicotine vapes already require a prescription in Australia, but the industry is poorly regulated and a black market is thriving.

Health Minister Mark Butler says the products are creating a new generation of nicotine addicts in Australia.

Also known as e-cigarettes, vapes heat a liquid – usually containing nicotine – turning it into a vapour that users inhale. They are widely seen as a product to help smokers quit.

But in Australia, vapes have exploded in popularity as a recreational product, particularly among young people in cities.

“Just like they did with smoking… ‘Big Tobacco’ has taken another addictive product, wrapped it in shiny packaging and added sweet flavours to create a new generation of nicotine addicts,” Mr Butler said in a speech announcing reforms on Tuesday.

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